Consultant Michele Ohmes answers your Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) questions.
Q: The 2010 standards don't address detectable warnings except in relation to transit platform edges. Does this mean they're no longer required at curb ramps and crosswalks?
A: Confusing as it seems, don't stop installing detectable warnings at the public right of way!
They're still required where a curb ramp, landing, or blended transition connects to a street and in medians, pedestrian refuge islands, and cut-through islands. According to the Access Board, the recently updated standards only address transportation facilities, which is why you won't find references for public right-of-way issues such as sidewalks and curb ramps.
The detectable warning for curb ramps and crosswalks are addressed on pages 37 - 39 of the Access Board's 2005 Public Rights of Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) however, do.
Though not enforceable, they're supported by the Federal Highway Administration and they serve as a supplement to ADA guidelines that can be followed in the absence of clear direction by the ADA. Further, they're consistent with the law's requirement that new facilities (and facilities altered to the maximum extent feasible) be accessible to and useable by people with disabilities.
The Access Board's recommendations include:
R303.3.2 Detectable Warnings. Detectable warning surfaces ... shall be provided where a curb ramp, landing, or blended transition connects to a street.
R304.1 General. Detectable warnings shall consist of a surface of truncated domes aligned in a square or radial grid pattern and shall comply with R304 (which describes the specifications of the detectable warnings).
R305.4.2 Detectable Warnings. Medians and pedestrian refuge islands shall have detectable warnings complying with R304 at curb ramps and blended transitions. Detectable warnings at cut-through islands shall be located at the curbline in-line with the face of curb and separated by a 2-foot minimum walkway without detectable warnings. Where the island has no curb, the detectable warning shall be located at the edge of roadway.
For more information on detectable warnings, check out the following FHWA pages: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bikeped/dwm04.htm
Until next month, may your holiday season be blessed with family, friends, and joyful recognition of the good in each of us!
- Michele S. Ohmes (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an ADA specialist who works with public works departments, facility managers, and contractors. Her design manual, ADA and Accessibility: Let's Get Practical, is available on CD-ROM through the American Public Works Association's Web site. Author's note: Michele & Associates does not render legal advice and has no enforcement authority regarding the ADA or other federal disability-rights legislation.